Sunday, August 4, 2013

Blogging Inspiration

I know we've talked a lot about finding inspiration for our WIPs and future WIPs but I haven't talked all that much about finding inspiration for blog posts.

I know the whole reason Jaime and Erin started What's Up Wednesday is because they too were finding it increasingly difficult to find topics to write about regularly on their blogs.

So I would love to know, where do you find your inspiration? Do you get it from other blogs? From the news? From google searches? Or does it just come to you out of thin air?


Sunday, July 28, 2013

You remind me of....

One of the questions I often see authors being asked is whether their main character (or another prominent character) is very much like the author themselves.

While one particular author would say that the character is very much like themselves or their best friend or mother, another author would say that the character has elements of themselves or is nothing like them.

When I started writing my WIP, I was basing part of the male lead (Noah) on my man. I imagined them to look very similar, and the personality to be quite alike, but as my WIP has grown, they're nothing alike. They don't think the same way, act the same way, the even look totally different (in my mind). Their motivations in life are completely different.

I find it quite amazing that Noah has grown to be very much his own person and now isn't actually based on anyone. By the time he walked onto my pages, there was no resemblance to my man at all. I was telling him how interesting I found this and asked him if he thought I was anything like Chlo (my MC).

It's a hard question really, as I haven't based Chlo on myself at all. I haven't written Chlo to be anything like me. She's from a different world, a different upbringing, a totally different life... but she's still a product of me so I guess it would make sense if by accident she really had turned out to be very similar to who I am.

We came to the agreement that while she's very different in her way of life, and the way she thinks about things and see's the world, and her reactions to situations presented to her are very similar to my own. Her emotions and the way she copes when life throws crap in her face are eight on par with my emotions and the way I would cope. Although, she's a lot stronger than I am and she's got way more balls (so to speak).

As my book progresses and the characters evolve, I'm sure I will see more of myself, my friends and family in the characters - most likely by accident.

What about y'all? Do you recognise yourself or your friends and family in your characters? Do you purposely write your characters to be based on someone or does it just kind of ....happen?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

If there were no limits

I fell down the Google Image rabbit hole today. I'm not quite sure how but I ended up pouring through graphic art, real images of beautiful places all over the world and simply incredible sketches (isn't the internet a marvelous place?!)

It was the strangest feeling looking through these images.... I felt like my mind was opening and there were no limits. I felt like I could go to all of these magical places, I could dream of being inside this graphic art, of stories I could write set amongst the scenes laid out in front of my eyes.

If there were no limits in life, if you could spend all your time doing whatever you wanted and going wherever you wanted, what would you do?

I've got a little bit of a dream. I'm trying to achieve it, even though there a hundreds of limits. I'd love to travel all over the world. To see the big cities and small villages, the lakes, oceans and mountains. I'd love to immerse myself in all different kinds of cultures, see different animals and experience new ways of life. I'd love to volunteer in a place that could really use my help. I'd love to move back to America (amazingly this is one of the hardest pursuits on my list! Dang American visas are hard to get!), I'd love to live in Cali, in a house in La Jolla (or near there) and raise my family and I'd love to write my stories and run a cake/high tea shop that overlooks La Jolla cove.... Just a little dream of mine.

What would you do if there were no limits?

Note: By limits I mean financial constraints, time constraints and other various barriers or constraints.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A new resolution

I'm not yet confident in my skills as a writer. It's all still feeling quite new for me. Because I'm not so confident I've asked two people who know I'm working on this WIP to read what I've written. However I found that the comments they would come back with was really affecting my writing and my need to get the story out.

While one would simply say, I don't like this part, the other would ask the small questions that I hadn't even thought of and certainly weren't necessary to think of in the first draft. But I'd look at their questions and comments and panic. I'd say if these questions are coming up now and I can't answer them, or I'm giving the answer they don't want to hear, then my book isn't going to work. The story isn't going to be right.

Consequently I would stop writing. I'd stop for a few days or a week and then I'd usually delete huge sections. Then I'd feel deflated. I'd think I couldn't do it and that I'd never be good enough.

I know they didn't mean for their comments to have that affect on me, but I was so desperate for my story to be....right. I wanted their approval with what I was writing, I wanted them to like what was written on those pages. I'm not saying they didn't, but there were aspects that needed work, or questions that were raised that they wanted to bring up with me.

Eventually I sat back and said to myself, I'm writing this story for me. It's my story and these bits this person is telling me to include or exclude will totally change the vision I have for it. I need to do what's right for me to get this story told. I need to do whatever I can to get the first draft complete, then I can hear what they have to say.

To do this I had to basically cut them off from my story. I don't talk about the content with them much anymore, and I definitely don't send them chapters. They understand, which I'm grateful for, and for the moment that is definitely what is best for me and my WIP. Since I stopped worrying about the comments they'd make and the questions they'd raise, the ideas poured into my brain and helped the story form in my mind. Now i'm more on track than ever.

I've asked a lot of people for help getting past my roadblocks over the past month or so, and I thank you all for your advice. Every piece of advice I was given, I've kept, and I use when I need inspiration. It turned out for me though, the way to really open the dam and let the ideas flow was to get rid of the external forces and to write this story on my own.

It's scary, but I really think it's going to be worth it! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Distractions

I'm TERRIBLE!

I was on such a great writing role, I had all these ideas kicking around in my head and then I got distracted. I got sucked into the world of The Game of Thrones.

Whoops.

I was going to watch it just when I had time (I was started from Season One), and for the first season I could see myself stretching it over a number of months. Then my co-workers started watching too so we'd have to watch a good number each night to discuss at work the next day. Then I simply got hooked.

I have three episodes left of season three, and after I've finished work and done the obligatory cake decorating for my cousin's third birthday party tonight I'm determined to finish.

The biggest problem however, is that I've TOTALLY abandoned my WIP. I'm so sorry. Terrible! I get distracted with things and those things become my whole world for a certain period of time until they come to an end (usually the end of a book or the end of the TV series so far, or until there is simply no more travel planning I could possibly do.)

Please tell me I'm not the only one?! Who else gets distracted, and what is it that usually distracts you?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Nostalgia

In New Zealand at the moment our main postal company is pushing to have our postal delivery service reduced from 6 days to 3 days. I personally think it's silly, and backward and makes New Zealand look like a hick town BUT their rationale is that people don't send letters and packages as much anymore because of emails and so the posties don't have as many letters to deliver. It'll mean there'll be all sorts of job cuts (poor old Postman Pat out of a job) and will be really annoying if you have to wait that many more days to receive your post.

They've been talking about how it's similar to when they cut down mail deliveries in the 1980s. The milk trucks used to go around the neighbourhoods, take away your empty glass bottles and replace them with new bottles. In the 80's they cut down this service to only a few days a week. I remember when I was a little kid in the early 90's hearing the music of the milk truck and running out to pick up the crate of our milk. We'd put out the empty glass bottles and put a blue ring around the neck of one (which meant medium fat), a green ring around one (which meant trim) and a white around the other (which meant full fat). Then the crates I'd take inside each day would have three full glass bottles of milk, one with a silver top, one with a green top and one with a blue top.



I didn't realise when they stopped the milk deliveries all together. I guess by the time it happened I was well into my schooling years and didn't notice the slow phasing out of the glass bottles and the phasing in of the supermarket bought plastic bottles. The ones from the supermarkets had all different kinds of flavours - full cream, trim, normal, calcium added, chocolate flavoured - all different colours of plastic milk tops. It's like I blinked and the world was unrecognisable.

So I was thinking about that and realised I really miss my childhood. Not because it was the carefree kiddie days but because life was so much more simple.

I know of a child who is under 10 years old and her whole life is spent behind a screen. She watches TV in the morning. On the way to school she listens to her i-pod while playing on her i-pad. While she's at school she uses computers. When she gets home she plays online on her laptop while watching TV from the minute she gets home until the minute she goes to bed. It's awful and just makes me cringe.

Now I spend a lot of my life behind screens as well. But when I was nine years old there was no cellphones. There were no laptops (that I knew of). Desktop computers were big, slow and clunky and the internet was slowly building momentum but you could go and make yourself a cup of tea in the time it took to load one single page.

I spent my time listening to music and dancing, scootering and biking around the neighbourhood or reading. I played board games and used my awesome pro-yo or jittering. What's happening to our kids now? Are they all like this child I know? Sucked into a world that is spent behind a screen?




I've been getting quite nostalgic, and have been thinking a lot about the past and how things were, and I'm wondering, what is it that you miss? Do you read a lot of books set in the days of your childhood and long for the days when you didn't own a TV, or just as the TVs started projecting coloured images, or when al you could play on a computer was pacman? As much as these technologies are a godsend, is there any you wish you could just get rid of for a little while?

I better snap back to the present. The reality is, as our world changes and becomes this 'modern world of convenience' we need to change with it, or we get left behind. But sometimes it's nice to wonder, what would our world be like without all these screens, all this convenience? What would it be like to still receive our milk in glass bottles at our letterbox, and if the thought of cutting the postal service down to 3 days a week was just preposterous.



I'm interested to hear your thoughts.... 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, that helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Join by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

I've been pretty bad at blogging lately, and even pumping out a What's Up Wednesday! (Partly because I get Wednesday almost 24 hours before America/Canada so I get confused by the time difference...!)

But this week, it's all on!

What I'm Reading
I finally finished Cody Name Verity which took me quite a while to get through then I followed it up by one of those guilty pleasures... Pretty Little Liars number 13 (!!). Dang guilty pleasures! Now I'm reading the new book from Khaled Hosseini, And The Mountains Echoed. There are so many others on my list that I've been meaning to read for over a year now, but I loved The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns so really want to crack into this one!

What I'm Writing
Still pumping away on my WIP. I've finally broken free of my mind block and barriers (there'll be a blog about this in the next few weeks) and now the words are flowing more freely. The key is to keep them flowing! I've made up two of the chapters I deleted, so just got to get a move on and make up the rest!

I'm happy with where my story is heading now, but I am spending more time getting those words down  and unfortunately less time here on the blog. I'm trying to avoid using my blog as a procrastination tool and avoid procrastination in general! We'll see how that goes... haha!

What Inspires Me Right Now
We've been having some pretty crappy weather in New Zealand lately. It's heading toward the middle of winter and New Zealand has been utterly battered with wild weather. In the past week we've had a massive wind storm, a massive rain storm (which caused huge amounts of flooding) and a huge snow storm. My character is in a pretty dark place currently so bundling up in front of the heater and writing while the rain pours outside is what has been inspiring me!

What Else I've Been Up To...
It's been busy over the last few weeks. Our Festival programme launched - if you're interested in just looking or think you might be in Christchurch in August/September check it out here. That's been one of my big projects and I'm very happy with how it turned out!

I've been braving the -3 temperatures to get out to the gym at 7am each morning, and have finally started watching Game of Thrones. I know I'm SO far behind, and I did watch most of the first season in 2011 but just couldn't get into it. I'm trying again and am loving it so far! About to start on season two :D

Aside from that, I've just been working and hanging with my family. Heading up north to see my man on Friday which i'm VERY excited about! 

As I said, it's mid-winter so we're all in hibernation mode so not a lot is really going on! Hating this cold! Bring on the summer!

What have you been up to?


Monday, June 10, 2013

The you behind the blog

I was thinking the other day, I've been talking to a lot of you for almost a year via the internet but there's only so much you learn about people via the web.

Obviously many people want to keep their private lives private, but I'm curious to know, as we're all writers and readers, what else fills up our days? What else do you like to do? What part of the world are you in? (Because i'm sure that impacts when you write and what you write about) What part of the world would you like to write in?

Maybe I could start...

I live in New Zealand - have recently moved back after a year in the USA. I plan to move to the UK next year after doing 6 weeks in Africa, and 2 weeks in Turkey. Ideally I'd love to live somewhere picturesque and remote to write. I'm thinking Alaska or Iceland. I'm imagining snow and grey skies and being able to sit inside by the fire place with a hot cup of cocoa and my imagination.

During the day I do marketing and publicity for an arts festival then in my spare time I work out at my local gym, I play my guitar, watch my favourite shows online, bake, spend time with my family and read. I don't have as much time to read anymore which consequently means it's taking me far longer to get through a book.

On the very little free time I have, I like to daydream about and plan my future travel. My man and I want to travel the whole world. You learn so much from traveling and get so much inspiration.

So ... that's pretty much me. Now I would LOVE to hear about all of you :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What's Up Wednesday


How is it What's Up Wednesday time again already? If you're not up to date yet, What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme that allows us to touch base with our online friends to tell them what's up in your world!

What I'm Reading
I'm ashamed to say i'm STILL reading Code Name Verity. I've been so crazy busy over the last few week that it's been a bit abandoned! Whoops! I miss my daily subway reading time! I'll get there, I promise!

What I'm Writing
A lot of you are aware I've been having some mega issues getting past my writers block. I deleted a good portion .... okay most of my current WIP and am starting again with a different angle. So I did the deleting and then I stared at the blank page and got frustrated. I blogged about my frustrations, got some great advice and then stared some more at my blank page. So I took a week off. I've barely even thought about my WIP for the last week until today. I went to the gym, and started to let my mind wander to my WIP. It was the first time I'd let myself think about what might happen next. 

See I've been writing out a broad plan of the book and I got to this point and I just couldn't figure how to get from point A to point B. At the gym, it was like the dam had been blown up and the water could flow freely. No kidding, I suddenly got the answer. It hasn't got me to the end of my plan, but it's got me pretty close. I feel I'm ready to get back on the horse and start writing the chapters again. I don't know why it's taken so long, but I'm glad things are flowing again!

What Inspires Me Right Now

Nature. Everyone always goes on about how beautiful New Zealand is, and I know they're right. I do live in a really stunning city. But truth be told, I don't see a lot of that on a daily basis. I live in a city, I go to my house, to the gym, to work and back. Last weekend I got out into nature and saw just how beautiful it can be. My book is very tied in with the power of nature, and so that has really got me inspired!

What Else I've Been Up To


Yikes I just wrote a whole speil here then it disappeared!

The main thing I've done in this last week was head to the West Coast of the South Island with my man so we could go to the glaciers! We had planned to go up on Franz Josef, but the whole time we were there it rained and rained. The cloud was really low which meant that the helicopter which transfers you up onto the ice couldn't operate so the tour was cancelled. We were so gutted! We headed 30 minutes down the road to Fox Glacier and as they don't need a helicopter their tours usually still operate in the rain. Only problem was, there'd been a rock slide so all their tours were cancelled too. We were so disappointed. There wasn't a lot else to do there except the glaciers so we packed up and left a day early. Typically within two days, the sun had come out and the tours up to the glacier had perfect blue skies. grrr! We did have a good chance to really spend some quality time together though. It was the first time we'd seen each other properly in 3 months so we were in dire need! We also managed to walk through the valley to the bottom of the glacier (in the rain, we got very wet), but that was nice to see.






Aside from that I've been busy at planning more of our big trip for next year! We've added in 5 days on Crete which I'm very excited about as my Grandad fought there during the war! We're booking the rest of our flights this week which will be great to get locked in! Then it's all about saving as much money as possible!!

Speaking of money, I've been working like a mad woman at work - the festival have released four of our top shows for the festival ahead of our main launch which has been very busy! So if anyone plans to be in CHCH, NZ in August and September you'll have to see some of the shows we've got on offer!

Lastly, I've been spending a lot of time with my parents lately which has been nice. My brother-in-law convinced us all to start watching this BBC show Orphan Black. I don't always trust his recommendations but this one is actually really great so far! Have only watched one episode but I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops. Does anyone else watch this?

What have you been up to this week?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Writing Frustrations

You know that moment when you've been writing your first draft and it's been going really well, then suddenly you hit a road block? Yeah that moment. You feel like you're hitting your head against a brick wall over...and over...and over.

What do you do to move past it? Normally I give up writing for a few hours and then come back with a fresh head. Tonight, however, it was frustrating me so much that I dug out the Lindt dark chocolate bunny that I had left over from Easter and polished off a good half of it. Ummm opps.

So, does anyone have any better ways of getting past that mind block? Ways that don't involve chowing down half a chocolate bunny? Because seriously, I don't do enough work at the gym to burn off entire bunnies every week!

Tips please! :D

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Inspiration

If you could see my "to read" pile right now you would raise your eyebrows and wish me luck. Truly. There are so many incredible books out there just begging to be read. So many different types of stories, so many characters.... where do we find the ideas from?

The book I'm working on right now, I have no idea where the inspiration came from. I was explaining the plot to my brother-in-law the other day and as he is a total sci-fi geek he was very excited to inform me my story had "very strong elements of sci-fi". No way, not true. Okay maybe a little true, but not intentionally! Honestly though, I have no idea where this particularly story idea came from. It wasn't a life event that gave me the idea, and it wasn't an image or a TV show or anything of the sort... I had one idea and it just developed from there.

In the past six months there have been a number of events that have triggered that little light bulb in my head to light up. The "this would be a great idea for a book" light bulb. Then there are the plans I'm making for the future which I can already tell would provide a great setting for a story.

So I wonder, where do you find your inspiration? Do you write books based on events of your life, or your friends lives or do you find something entirely and completely obscure and go from there?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

I swear the weeks are just whizzing past!


So word is starting to get out about What's Up Wednesday which is GREAT! I just now need to remember the time zone difference and get them up at the right time! Yikes!

How's everybody's week been? :D


What I'm Reading
I've now officially started on Cody Name Verity, and so far it's pretty good. Has a bit of a slow start but it's enjoyable to read. I've been going to bed really early to try and get lots of reading time in but unfortunately I end up falling asleep within half an hour. My co-workers do find it funny when I say I went to bed to read my book and ended up asleep by 9pm! Crikey!

What I'm Writing
Well I sat staring at my blank page with the title Chapter 8 for just over a week. You know when you read a book that is so boring you have to force yourself to get over it and just read but it's SUCH. A. HASSLE? Yeah, well my book's been like that. So repetitive and boring, and I sat there saying 'this is going no where.' So I did two days of serious brainstorming and then I looked at what my issues were.

I was trying to focus on two many characters at once. There wasn't a sole purpose of the story and there was too many smaller story lines trying to creep in. So I'm pretty much going to scrap chapters 4 - 8 and start over. Chapters 1-3 are where I want them, but I need to hone it in, and focus more on the issue and the resolution... the characters journey. I was also writing in split narrative as I thought that was the best way to get over a certain language barrier, but it was creating too much confusion so i'm kicking the guy's narrative to the curb and going to change a few things up. Hopefully it'll work better this time!

What Inspires Me Right Now
My motivation to get the story right, that's inspiring me. Every time I log onto my blog and check the newsfeed I get inspired. And of course my lovely man who won't let me give up even when I feel it's useless.

What Else I've Been Up To
Sleeping! I've been so tired I've been sleeping so much! A lot of physio as well - I have a slipped disc in my neck which is causing these awful headaches so I've been doing a lot of physio exercises to help that come right. I'm still planning my trips, and at work we're planning a big launch party for Friday night. We're pre-releasing four shows that'll be in our Arts Festival which is very exciting! And the brochure has finally been sent to the printers!

Aside from that, my man is FINALLY coming down to see me - it's been two months since I saw him last so I'm very exciting, and in a week's time we're heading to one of New Zealand's best glaciers which I'm very excited about!

What have you been up to? :)


Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz


Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Written By: A. S. King
Published By: Knopf Books
Published On: October 12, 2010
Pages: 336


Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.
 
So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?
 
Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.




I was recommended this book by a friend of mine who's judgement on books I trust immensely. If she goes on and on about a particular book, I'm 99% convinced that I'm going to love it. Vera Dietz was no exception.

The cover is simple yet effective, a design in which you don't often see on many modern books which I quite like. I love the way the lighter is forming the title and the green background is quite eye-catching. As you make your way through the book, you also realise the lighter is actually a very important part of the story.

The book is narrated by Vera as she moves on with her life after the death of her best friend, Charlie, who she hadn't spoken to in months after he had changed enough to cut out of his life. The thing that I really love about this book is how very real it is. As though this situation, and this life, could really happen to the average teenager.

Aside from the somewhat confusing drunken hallucinations of Vera seeing dead Charlie's ghost, the book is exceptionally well written. It was easy to get captured into the story within the first few pages and it very quickly becomes hard to put the book down. While Vera knows the true cause of Charlie's death, you want to keep reading so you can find out the heartbreaking truth of what happened on that fateful day.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves a strong and powerful YA novel.
I would give Please Ignore Vera Dietz 5 stars


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What's Up Wednesday


I've been meaning to do What's Up Wednesday for a couple of weeks since Jaime and Erin came up with this awesome idea.
Only problem was I kept getting confused with the different time zones and pretty much failed. This week though, i'm on it!

What's Up Wednesday is just a way to keep in touch with blogging friends and let everyone know what's been happening in your life!

What I'm Reading
I just finished the latest Jodi Picoult book The Storyteller which I, embarrassingly, took two months to read. It was a good read, just very heavy and life kept getting in the way!

Tonight i'll also be finishing The Future of Us. Tomorrow I can finally start on Code Name Verity. My friends been bugging me for ages to read this, so hopefully it sucks me in!

What I'm Writing
I'm taking my good sweet time to get through my current WIP. Seriously, I'm up to chapter 8 and have been writing for three months already. I currently have hit a snag and haven't written all week. I'm sure i'll be able to pick it up this weekend when I'm a little less crazy with work and life in general. I just need to stop changing so many important aspects of the book!

What Inspires Me Right Now
I'm not getting a lot of inspiration from certain things right now except perhaps my dreams. When I need something to come to me I go to the gym and about half way through my work out, once i'm well and truly lost in my story land my ideas come pouring out. Then of course there are a few of my own life events and parts of history that lend themselves and inspire me.

What Else I've Been Up To

At work
We're in full on brochure production mode for the Arts Festival Programme Brochure. It's a lot of work and I've done a lot of proofing and editing over the last few weeks. I had no idea how much work went into those brochures. It's almost time to send it to the printers - very exciting but also nerve wracking.

At home
I've been thinking a lot about my book, but haven't done a lot of writing. I've been playing my guitar a lot too, losing myself in the music is a great way to spend some 'me time'. I've also been planning my next lot of travels! My man, my sister and my sister's man booked flights to Africa on Monday, we're all booked in for early next year to head to the great African continent and safari for 5 weeks before spending 9 days in Egypt, 6 days in Athens and 10 days in Turkey. Then we'll move to London. The plans are starting to come into place, I'm very excited! I'm also planning my trip to the New Zealand glaciers which I'm doing with my man in two weeks time. I've never been before even though they're only a few hours drive away, so i'm looking forward to that!

In Remembrance
The last week has been pretty difficult. On Friday two people I knew died. One was expected, and one was incredibly sudden and unexpected. I saw this guy on Friday morning and he was happy and full of energy. Within a few hours a brain aneurysm had snuffed out his life. So cruel and unfair. I've rarely known anyone to be so chirpy and living life to the full. It's hard to believe that someone who really was larger than life could be taken from us so early. Words can't fully do justice to how much of an incredible guy he was, and why he managed to touch so many people's lives, but he really did. A good portion of my town knew him in some way or another. His death has hit me harder than any other I've been through, including my grandparents (but that would be because I was so young). All my love, prayers and thoughts are going out to his wife and his two children who haven't even reached the age of five.

Sooo that's me for now! What have you all been up to? :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why Do We Write?

What is it that encourages us to write? Why do we sit behind the screen and rack our brains to find what will happen next?

I've always been a 'writer' in a sense but it's only been in the last year that I've really wanted to write. I'm not sure where the switch came from. I'm not sure what it is that made me say to myself, I really want to write.

In the past few weeks there have been a significant number of changes in my life. In fact my life has almost been turned upside down, and writing, my blog, everything has taken a back seat. I've barely even thought about the story that's been sitting inside my mind for the past nine months and had to focus on the here and now of my life.

A part of me even wondered if I'd find my way back to writing or if it would be something that I'd been into for a while and just floated away to the place where my old hopes and dreams now lived.

Once my life was in order my mind kept drifting back to the world that I had created, and this girl... the main character of my story, she kept popping up in my mind asking why I wasn't writing. Plus I missed it. I knew my motivation had gone because I wasn't having a lot of luck with my writing before I took my break, but I knew I cared too much about this idea, this story to just leave it behind. I need to know what happens. I need to know how this story ends, and the only way to do that is to find my motivation and start writing again.

I don't really have an answer for my first question. I love writing, and I love the sense of purpose it gives me. I know I'm the only one that can tell my story in the way I want it told. So maybe that's why we write. To tell the stories that we know we're the only ones who can tell them.

Why do you write? Why do you make the time to sit down at your computer and write when you know there is probably a million other things you could be doing instead?

I'd like to know...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My book is #$%^&*

Does anyone have days when they're just writing away, doing their best to write a decent story and then they stop and just think, oh my goodness. My book sucks.

At the moment i'm plugging away, writing my heart out and just letting the story flow from my fingertips. But then I stop. It's almost like i'm building a wall for myself that I just can't get past. I'm building it on purpose. My story is crap. The dialogue isn't flowing as naturally as it should.... it just doesn't feel natural. It feels too forced.

Then of course I go on a whirlwind of self-doubt and wonder if I'm really cut out for this particular path or not. Could I even manage to get this book finished if I can't get through a chapter without criticising my work? My mum's always said i'm my own biggest critic. I know that, but I also know when I can do better... and this... it's not better.

How do you get past this? Are first drafts usually this awful? Does most of the 'decent' writing come in the editing phase? It's so hard to get past the self-doubt and criticisim.

So many times I just wanna delete it all and start over. But that'd just be a waste of time now, wouldn't it! What are your experiences? 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
Written By: Markus Zusak
Published By: Picador (Australia), Knopf (USA)

Published On: March 14, 2006
Pages: 576

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.


It's been a couple of months since I read The Book Thief, and I've mentioned before how much I enjoyed it, so I thought I might as well write a review on it. 

There are many different covers out and about for this particular book but the image I've chosen here is the cover on the book that I own. I feel that it really represents the story. Death, the narrator, standing alone in a frozen almost dead forest. Then of course the splatter of blood. The mark of war. It's a very thought provoking image if you really look into it, and I'm sure English classes all over the world have a field day pulling it to pieces. (I used to hate that part of english.)

I had been recommended this book to read by so many people for the last two years. I had been roaring through my books at such a fast pace and I thought this would be the same. Not so. 

Firstly, the writing style is very different to everything else I'd been reading. It's narrated by death, so of course it's a different reading experience. You're not hearing about the story from someone who is actually in the action, you're hearing about it from someone who is on the outside, looking in. 

Secondly... you read the plot synopsis. You know it's set in WWII, and you know at some point during the book she'll be a part of hiding a Jewish man in her basement. The content of this book is heavy. There are no restrictions on who may die and who may live. Who may be sent to the war front and who may be beaten to a pulp in front of all the other characters. 

There are of course funny moments, charming moment and sweet moments. But it's a difficult book to read. That being said, it's very rewarding. It's a great story, very powerful and very serious. I love the occasional book like this but you really have to be in the right mind frame to read it. I should issue some form of warning. By the end of the book your heart may be broken.

Otherwise, it's a very thought provoking and well written novel. I would certainly recommend it, but you probably have to be into the darker, heavier books.

I give The Book Thief 5 stars.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

First Drafts

I always find it really interesting to hear how long it takes various writers to pen their first draft. I've heard many writers have written their first draft in only a month, or six weeks. Then again I've heard others who have taken one year, or even ten! As much as I'd love to write my first draft in a month, that just wouldn't happen! On average I usually only get an hour or two each day to write, if that and I just don't have the ability to power through and pump out three chapters in that time frame!

So I'm wondering, how long does it take you, on average, to write your first draft? Which way to you write? Do you just let all your words flow out and fix it later or do you continue refining and really think about the content that's going into each chapter.


Friday, April 26, 2013

The new look

If you've been a visitor to my blog in the past you'll know it used to look very different. It looked somewhat .. sad and cheap!

Well I logged into my blog the other day and found it looking completely different. A butterfly background, this awesome vintage looking book header... it looked SO much better.

I didn't do this. But I soon found out who did.

My amazing man has been living in a different city from me for two months now. We're finding the long distance thing pretty hard. He'd been talking for months about making my blog look more visually appealing (that was the designer in him talking), but I didn't know what I wanted done with it so I just left it.

He had a few days off work a few weeks ago and decided to revamp my blog to surprise me. He made the whole thing from scratch (the designer noob in me is so super impressed). I love it, I think it represents me much better, it looks more sophisticated and classy.

So I just want to write this quick post to thank him for doing this for me. I love it and my blog is DEFINITELY more visually appealing now!

What do you all think? :) 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Withdrawal Pains

I have 'em. Withdrawal pains. From America. Sad, isn't it?

For those who don't know, I recently returned to New Zealand from a mind blowingly amazing 12 months living in New York and over 2 months travelling the USA.  I had what is quite possibly the most incredible experience of my life. I learnt so much about the country, the culture and of course myself. I have a lot to thank America for, and there is so much I miss about it.

I thought I was ready to leave New York. I thought it was time to move on and see what was around the next corner. While I was right to an extent, I was also so so wrong.

I've spent the last two months having serious withdrawal symptoms. Primarily for New York, but also for America in general. I miss it. I want to take off to Chicago this weekend, or spend a few days down in Florida...but I can't. It's too far and too expensive.

I miss the friends I made in America, and I miss my amazing roommate, and gluten free cinnamon chex! I miss the architecture, the history and the vibrancy.... I miss it all so much. I'm longing to go back, and my FH is the same.

America is such an incredible place, with so much diversity and intrigue. There's so much left for me to explore and I'm really not ready to move on from my love of New York and America.

If you have anything to say to take away the pain of these withdrawal symptoms, please, be my guest! Obviously this has nothing to do with writing, or reading. But I know so many of you live in America, and I'd love it if you could make me jealous but telling me about your town :D

I would love to hear any stories any of you Americans have of your incredible country, or any stories you non-Americans have of your travels through America. Please help my withdrawal pains!!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Let's HOP! The Next Big Thing :)


So today I woke up to a lovely surprise. Colin Smith tagged me in a bloghop called "The Next Big Thing". I'm super honoured to have been tagged! This bloghop is about one's current WIP. Now mine, while it's been forming in my brain for almost a year, the writing is still very much in the early stages, so we'll see how much I can answer without giving too much away!

What is the working title of your book?
I actually don't have one at the moment. I'm going off various things like A New World and silly ones like that because the right name hasn't come to me yet...

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea actually came out of an idea I had for a different story. I'd set this other story in dystopian earth inside a dome. However I found there were quite a number of books like this including one that was released around the time I was in the brainstorm phase. So I reworked it a little, changed the location, the premise and a number of aspects about the story and it evolved from there. My idea for this book is much better than my original idea now I think about it.

Aside from that the idea from this book came from the question - what would we be like if we as humans had gone in a different direction. If we hadn't evolved into this world of technology, materialism, and money hungry people. How different would we be if we had gone down a different path. What would our world be like? So the basis of my idea came from that.

What genre does your book fall under?
I would say it's a YA Sci-Fi meets Romance meets Drama ... It's a bit of a mash up really. My sci-fi mad brother in law insists that it's entirely sci-fi. I wouldn't go that far....

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This wasn't something I'd even thought about, and I haven't had a lot of time to think about this question but I have to say Clare Bowen, who is an Australian actress and currently stars in Nashville, would be the perfect Verra (the girl the story centres around). I can clearly see my main male character, Archie, being played by Asher Book. Other guys in Verra's life I'd love to be seen to be played by Matt Prokop, Austin Butler, Cody Linley, Alex Pettyfer and Jeremy Sumpter.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Verra's community is left in a state of grief after the humans from behind the wall begin stealing the community's children.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm hoping it'll be represented! I'm hoping there's an agent somewhere who would love to represent me and help get the story out to the masses!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I still haven't finished! It's a long term work in process. I started writing in February and I'm only up to chapter four...!

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
Hmm that's a hard one. It has elements of I am Number Four I guess, maybe elements of The Host....Also Rabbit Proof Fence. It's hard to really compare it to others at this stage when I've got a very much incomplete WIP!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My Mum, my man and my kindle! I got really into reading on my kindle which meant I was suddenly reading a lot more books than I was before. My mum then told me she believed I would write my own book one day and my man encouraged me to go with it. It snowballed from there!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It has elements of real life. It looks at a young girl who is taken from her community and all she knows and placed in an environment which is so completely different from her own. (That is based on the stolen generations of Australia.) Verra and her community have very strong Maori elements to it, and it really looks at a different way of life.

TAG!
Okay, now it's time to hear about other people's WIPs! I hope you guys haven't been tagged already..!

Jaime Morrow
Jess Khoury
Daisy Carter

Monday, April 8, 2013

Full Time Work

As many of you know, in January I moved back to New Zealand after living in New York for a year. I soon landed my dream job. The type of job that I've been working towards so far in my short career. Naturally I was supremely happy. The job is full time. Beyond full time in fact. I'm working on a festival circuit so as anyone who has worked for festivals or events knows, the job can be crazy demanding. Full time plus overtime means you have very little free time.

When I get home after work and my gym session, all I want to do is crash in front of my laptop and watch one of my favourite TV shows and just zone out. I'm exhausted. Of course many of my favourite shows are now on their "in between season" breaks since it's coming into summer in America (jealousy), and so I have a little more free time in the evenings, so I just have to see if I can muster enough brainpower to get back behind the laptop and drum out some more words for my story.

I know there are quite a few of you who have been juggling full time work with writing for a long time, and I would love to know .... how on earth do you do it? How do you have the energy to start writing after a full on, demanding day at work? Do you write for long? Do you get much done? Or do you save your writing until the weekends?

Whatever it is you do, you guys must be super heros!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

RTW: A character as my guide

Road Trip Wednesday is a Blog Carnival where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing-or-reading related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic

This weeks question -  If you could visit any country with a fictional character as your guide, who would you pick and where would you go?

I'm actually finding this quite a difficult question to answer. Not because I don't know which character or which country, but because there are so many possible places and characters I could choose!

The first one I would choose would be going to the countryside of the UK with Draco Malfoy as my guide. I think deep down he's got a bit of a soft spot and as we found at the end of the series, he's not as evil as he once thought he was. He could show me around the world behind the world. He could show me the magical world! I think that'd be pretty awesome!

Secondly I'd like to go to Chicago, USA and have Four (from Divergent) show me around the factioned society of the futuristic society. Although a guy who throws knives at the girl he likes doesn't do much for me, I think he'd be a pretty interesting guy to get to know and have as a guide around this treacherous place.

Lastly I'd like Jace from Mortal Instruments to take me to The City of Glass and show me around, then him and I could travel Europe together and I think that'd be pretty awesome!

There is one other... there's a character in the book I'm writing at the moment.. his name is Archie and he lives in a place like no other. I'd love to meet Archie and be taken around the place he lives, to learn more about it and to really get inside his head. I think that'd be pretty cool. 

What about you? Who would you choose and where would you go?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why



Thirteen Reasons Why
Written By: Jay Asher
Published By: Razorbill
Published On: 2007
Pages: 289


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush - who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.

Thirteen Reasons Why is the gripping, addictive international bestseller that has changed lives the world over. It's an unrelenting modern classic.



This book had been top of my list for a while now. I'm not quite sure why, it just seemed like suddenly I was hearing about it everywhere I went.
I was lucky enough to have a friend lend it to me on my return to New Zealand and I finally got a chance to read it. In the limited reading time I have, I managed to get through the book pretty quickly.

It's kind of morbid but this kind of subject in a book really captivates me - that is, the subject of suicide.

Clay Jenson is the "nice guy" of his school, who had a long time crush on Hannah Baker, the girl with the reputation. He always assumed he was out of her league, but he didn't realise how much he didn't know about her until her suicide tapes arrive on his doorstep one afternoon after school. The tapes blame thirteen people for her suicide - and each person she blames will at some point be recieving the tapes.

Clay can't figure out what he did to Hannah to make him be on these tapes. Especially since all he wanted was to be with this girl. So the book is set over one night as he wanders his neighbourhood, going to places of importance to Hannah and listening to her story.

The book has a split narration style, but it's actually done in such a way that you barely notice it's a split narrative. Interspersed with Hannah's words, and her story are Clay's thoughts about Hannah's narration and interactions with others around his neighbourhood.

I found the book very easy to read, it captured me immediately and I wanted to keep reading until I found out what Clay had done to earn a place on those tapes. After I found out, I still didn't want to put the book down as I wanted to know how the tapes had affected everyone else who's names were on Hannah's list. Hannah's "Baker's dozen".

I did, sometimes, find Clay's reaction a little hard to believe, and a little unrealisitic. I get that finding and listening to those tapes would have been really difficult and heartbreaking, but I also think at times Clay's reaction was a little over the top and his comments in reaction to things Hannah was saying often became a little repetitive.

When the book ended, I wasn't ready. I wanted to keep reading, and find out what happened to other characters on Hannah's list after they heard the tapes. I, honestly, could have stayed in Clay's world for longer and I didn't want the book to be over!

While at times the writing of the book left a bit to be desired, I really loved this book. It was captivating, heartbreaking and interesting. I found it hard to put the book down, and it would be easy to read this book in a single day.

I would definitely recommend this book to others althoguh despite the difficult subject matter I would say it's possibly for the younger end of the Young Adult genre (although I wouldn't go younger than 15....)

I would give Thirteen Reasons Why 4 stars.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Wishing you all a safe and happy Easter! Be good to each other, laugh and be merry :)

File:Hase mit Ostereiern (1).jpg

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Under the flags


I can't help feeling, right at this moment that I'm a little bit lucky.

I work for an arts festival in one the cities in New Zealand and currently one of the other cities, Auckland, is holding their Arts Festival. My work has sent me up to view a few of their shows, and check out how their festival has been going.

I have a little downtime today, and althoguh the summer in New Zealand is drawing to an end, it is the most beautiful day in Auckland today. Blue skies, not a cloud in sight and the sun is beating down on me.

The festival I work for is going to be bringing down this incredible exhibit by one of New Zealand's contemporary artists, Tiffany Singh. Basically thousands of children participates in these workshops with Tiffany to create flags that reflect their hopes and dreams for the future. They're based on Tibetan prayer flags. They're then hung up in a mass installation so they plays are sending the hopes and dreams up to the sky.

Auckland has the exhibit as part of their festival and I am currently sitting underneath this installation of flags in a lounger with the sun streaming down between the flags.... and i'm writing my book.

This is how I define perfection. I wish you could all be filling up the other sun loungers, having a drink, listening to the music that is being played out over the square and working on your own novels.

It's days like this when I remember why I love New Zealand.


(C) Samantha's Bookshelf

(C) Samantha's Bookshelf


Friday, March 22, 2013

The buzzzz!

There is nothing like that buzz of sitting down at your computer and letting the words flow out. When you get past that block in your mind that's been preventing your story to come out, the feeling is so exhilarating. Then, of course, there is that incredible feeling of triumph you get when you finish each chapter. You deserve a pat on the back and a glass of wine!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Writers and Social Media - Blogs

I decided to combine these two topics because they're not as big as the previous two - Facebook and Twitter.

Blogs

There's been a lot of debate in the past about about whether it is necessary or relevant for authors to have a blog. To be honest, I think it's up to each individual whether they want to upkeep a blog or not. It's challenging, that's no secret. It's hard to know what to write and how often to post, it's hard to find the time between the writing and for many of us, the full time jobs. One thing I would say is that if you're going to have a blog, it's important to use it. You don't necessarily need to post every week, but it's helpful if you can try to have something published on your blog every month.

For those who are committed to maintaining a blog, it's a great idea to get involved in the online writing community. I've posted in the past about how incredible and supportive they are, and there are plenty of writing and reading blog hops to participate in and you can really get to know some of the other bloggers out there and develop some great friendships. (I'm assuming most of the people reading this are already part of the writing community anyway already know how great you all are ;-) )

But what do you say on a blog? What do you write about?

Of course this is entirely up to you, but there are many ways to develop your blog, and this can depend on where in the writing cycle you are.

You can talk about books you've been reading, you can study the reading and writing news and provide a social commentary on it (almost like an editorial), you can talk about your book or your writing process, you could talk about how you edit a book or how you formulate ideas, you could talk about what motivates you and gets you in the mood. You can see what others are blogging about and provide responses or, particularly if you've had a book published, you can blog your tips and tricks for writing. A person who I think has done this particularly well is Veronica Roth, who regularly blogs with great advice about ways to write a novel and ways to edit. Of course these tips won't work for everyone because this very much depends on the type of person and writer you are. Whereas for me, Veronica's personality and creative process is very similar to mine, so when I first began to get into writing I read every single post she had published on her blog and took on board all the tips and tricks she was sharing with her followers.

Another way to use your blog is to run competitions. I've come across many writers running competitions from their blogs and it certainly is a great way to discover new writers. One person who has done this particularly well is Jessica Khoury. In the lead up to Origin being released she ran a competition through her blog (smart because you can't run them through Facebook) and she tied it in with real world events - The 2012 London Olympics. She called it the Origin Olympics. You had to complete tasks which would see those entering the competition to change their Facebook and Twitter profile picture to the cover of Origin. This meant the picture of the book cover was all of social media. She also had people tweeting about the competition - getting the name of the book and the link to the competition out there, and she had people posting about the competition and the upcoming release of the book on their blogs. Jessica is an avid Pinterest user, and she had a folder of great images which she then had those entering the contest to write short 500 word stories to go with the picture. Such a great idea. The competition spanned over all the social media sites and got Origins name out there into the great wide world of Cyberspace.

So there are various ways you can utilise your blog. Again, as with Facebook and Twitter, I would recommend you ensure you have the comment section turned on on your blog and to respond to comments that come through. It's nice for people to hear their words are being heard. Similarly, go to other blogs and comment on what others are posting about. Not only will it expand your knowledge in this industry, it will allow you to make connections and may give you some ideas of what you can write about on your blog.

There are of course other social media sites you can utilise to your advantage - Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, however they're all pretty self explanatory. Use Pinterest to develop photo boards of your story. Find inspiration from the images that come up in your photo feed. Use YouTube to post small clips of your life or you talking about your book, or answering fan questions, and use Instagram to document the noteworthy things that happen in your daily life.

I hope all this talk of social media has helped and given you some ideas of how you can run your own social networking sites!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Writers and Social Media - Twitter

Recently I posted an entry about how using social media can be a very powerful tool for marketing yourself. I talked about Facebook and the ways in which you can use it to really connect with your fans and to marketing yourself and your writing.

Twitter

Now I'm going to talk about Twitter. Twitter is an interesting one because it's not as widely used as Facebook yet in a sense it can almost be more powerful. A single tweet on this social media platform can gain you huge reach. If a few influential people or organisations, or followers with many followers of their own, retweeted you, you could be hundreds of thousands of people seeing your tweet.

Twitter is also a great place to engage with your followers. If people have questions or comments about your book you can communicate with them easily, and safely. If one of your followers is a huge fan of your work, and they tweet you to tell you so, then you reply to them, you could quite possibly make their day. Heck, you could even make their year! You can use Twitter to create a real discussion within the platform and to build a real loyalty from your followers to you and your novels.

If you can get into people's twitter streams regularly, your name will be out there. You will get to the top of their list and stay in their mind. That's why frequency on Twitter is super important. When you post a tweet you may only have a minute of two before your tweet has disappeared off the feed of your followers. Especially if your followers are following hundreds of people. This is why you need to post on twitter numerous times a day. Not only do you need to post your own statuses but it's a very good idea to respond to any tweets that are directed immediately at you, and if possible, to even jump into other conversations that you see happening around you. That way you're spreading your name around, and it's quite likely Twitter lurkers who haven't heard of you before, may see your name of the feed of someone you're talking with, check out your twitter profile and then consequently check out your book.

Twitter is a great way to run competitions - especially competitions that involve retweeting one of your tweets, or that involve tweeting a message that includes your twitter handle (@author) and a possible hashtag (#thenameofmybook).

Now Twitter is a great platform for communicating with your fans and followers, but it's limited to a sense so it must work alongside other channels to deliver your goals. To do this you have to think about ways you can integrate with Pinterest, your blog and Facebook. How can you use Twitter to drive traffic to your blog? How can you run a competition between Pinterest and Twitter? These are things you can think about to really utilise your various social media platforms.

You can hold really great author Q&A via Twitter. Getting your fans to send in questions and then answering them either on Twitter or by making a Youtube video that you can post on both Facebook and Twitter. You need to figure out how active your audience are. If you ask a question, do many of them respond? If so you'll be able to do great audience engaging activities with them, to really get them excited, but if not then you need to use a different tactic - a more one sided approach.

Twitter is still a great place to give the audience "behind the scenes" glimpses - photos of your printed out manuscript, or the mess of a desk you're trying to write your story at. And in terms of what you say on Twitter, it's a great idea to use an editorial calendar again, however as you want to be posting numerous times each day you may want to have basic generic ideas and then see what happens each day.

You need to again be human and genuine. Even more so than on Facebook. On Twitter it's almost like a commentary of your life. Do not use it to send every tweet promoting your book. Talk about the giant steak you ordered for lunch that was bigger than your head, mention the crazy lady on the subway, talk about the beautiful forest walk you're going on, or the fluffy new dressing gown you can now wear while you're typing out your book. If I was tweeting right at this moment I would talk about the creepy noises that are coming from my wardrobe. It's so very human, and people enjoy that. People like to know that you're just like them. People can relate. Other people might be hearing creepy noises inside the walls of their house, or want to tell me that with a fluffy new dressing gown should also be a steaming cup of hot chocolate. People like to be involved. It creates the feeling that you're friends, and who knows, you could be. I have met so many incredible people on Twitter, and it primarily started as a few exchanged tweets. Remember, if you're friends with your followers, or at least if you respond to them and talk with them, that will create loyalty.

Again on Twitter, as with Facebook, you want to support others like you. You want to encourage other writers, and congratulate those who just signed a book deal, and talk about the latest great book you've read. You want to join the conversation, and make new connections. Help those who need it - if someone is asking a question which you know the answer to, don't be afraid to jump in there and help them out.

So, the things that work well on Twitter

·         Transparency – Twitter is all about honesty. No bull. It's a place to be honest about who you are, what’s happening behind the scenes. The more honest you are, the more followers you'll have. If something goes bad on Twitter you need to face up to it. If there is a mistake in your book that people have picked up on, just acknowledge it. If you slipped up and made a mistake in one of your tweets, don't delete that tweet and pretend it didn't happen, just face up to it. You're being honest, and you're being real.

·         Responsiveness – It’s not just about tweeting things out but you need to answer questions that are being asked and being responsive. But also being alert about what is being said about you and what is being said about your book, where people have problems and issues out there. Being responsive and on top of it. 
·         Conversation – If you have a conversation, responding, talking to people and if you have personality come through, be playful and intriguing then those things work well on Twitter.
·         Personality
·         Playfulness
·         Intrigue
·         Frequency – Twitter has such a short lifespan because the newsfeed always is moving, they see your Tweet in a feed, in a list etc just passing through so you need to be frequent.
·         Brand consistency – Very important. Be consistent with who you are, what you stand for and your writing. Think of yourself as a business. How you market and project yourself is how you're marketing and projecting your business. 

Being active on Twitter is the only way to build up your community. So the more you talk, the more you'll show up on people's feeds.

So, if you're stuck on what to write, there are 9 different kinds of Tweeting types you can choose from

1. Questions – Ask questions of your followers. What are you doing today, what are you working on, what are you reading at the moment.
 2. Information Sharing - So share content that is not created by you but your audience can benefit from. Maybe it's the top 100 YA books of 2013, or maybe it's an article about the strength of your particular genre.
3. Solve others’ problems – Find questions, look what’s coming through the feed and find a question you feel confident to answer, then hop into the conversation.
4. Opinions – Sharing your opinion, giving people a unique insight into your head. Be careful not to offend though, unless you're going for one of those 'opinionated, controversial authors' titles!
5. Link promotion – Tweeting links out to your own content. Utilise what content you’ve got going on and link to it. This means linking to your website, your blog, your facebook page, interviews you've done with others, guest blog posts you've done etc.
6. Community highlighting – Highlighting people in the community who have great stuff going on. Shows you  to be very community minded because you don’t want to just be tweeting about yourself. 
7. Conversation – Watch what people are saying in the sector and just respond to it. For example, Random and Penguin House merge - see what people are saying and respond to a couple of people's tweets. Really get into the conversation.
8. RT-ing information – Reinforces your goal, and shows that you're not all about you and plugging yourself
9. Slice of life – real human stuff, what are you thinking about right now, post a picture of your mega sandiwch and talk about how you just don't know if you can eat it all.

Most important - do not have an automatic DM saying, thanks for following me, here's a link to my amazon page where you can buy my new book. Honestly, you will lose so many followers that way.

Finally, consider using a dashboard such as hootsuite or sproutsocial or other alternatives to help you manage your feed. You can also write a lot of tweets in advance and schedule them to be posted at certain times to ensure you're not falling behind in your writing because you've fallen down the rabbit hole of social media.


So there's my reasonably long rant on Twitter. Again, if you have any burning questions, do let me know and i'll do my best to answer them for you! I hope this has helped those of you who are a little stuck on the Twitter side of things, although I know so many of you are Tweeting superstars. 




Friday, March 8, 2013

Writers and Social Media - Facebook

A few months ago I was having a chat with one of my writer friends about utilising social media in the best way possible. She said she wasn't sure of the best way in which to market herself over these platforms, she never knew what to write on her blogs, and she didn't want her entire twitter feed to be an advertisement for her book.

I've been in the marketing sector for a few years now, and I've been doing tons of social media marketing. Most of the people I've come across seem to have a relatively good handle on managing their social media accounts but I thought I'd just write down a few tips for those who aren't quite sure how they should be managing their accounts.

I'm going to start today with Facebook...

Facebook

Facebook is probably the most popular social media platform and if you're a writer, chances are you'll have a 'like' page on Facebook. This is a really great place for connecting with your fans, giving them updates and including them in your authors life.

Facebook fans like to feel like they're part of things, they love getting little behind the scenes glimpses and being treated to a sneaky paragraph from your new book. Facebook is a great way to develop loyalty in your fans, and the best way to do this is to not freeze them out. They want to be included and acknowledged. Use your status updates to ask them questions, respond to comments they write on your wall - obviously if you have hundreds of comments coming in by the hour that's not entirely possible, but do the best you can. If you're responding to as many as you can then your fans will see you're really making an effort.

Encourage them to get involved, involve them in the decision making process when you can. If you have two covers to choose from and your contract will allow you to ask their opinion, then go for it. Ask them which cover they prefer. If you're writing a new book and struggling to come up with a name for your character, you could enlist their help? You might get some great ideas coming through. Your fans love to be involved in the creative process. Sure your publishers might change your characters name later, but in the meantime you've had this great brainstorming process with your fans.

Don't just post about yourself, post about other topics that your fans will care about, this might be something local in the news, this might be congratulating a fellow author on a movie deal, talking about the book you're currently reading that you love... these things are more than okay to post about.

Also make sure the content you're posting on your page is varied. You almost want your page to look like a magazine when you're scrolling down the page - photos, questions, videos, general status updates, links.

Make sure you're posting frequently. For Facebook you don't want to post too often and it depends where you are in terms of your writing - if you have a book coming out soon you're going to want to increase the frequency in which you're posting. You don't want to be posting too much in that you're spamming your fans newsfeed, but you don't want radio silence on your page. I would say four times a week would be okay unless you have a big launch on the horizon.

Even on days you're not posting, make sure you set aside some time each day to respond to comments on your page, and go around other common interest pages to 'like' and comment on their posts. By common interest pages I mean other authors and pages dedicated to certain books, and then book groups like I Love YA Fiction is on Facebook. Not only does this mean you're supporting others in the writing/reading community but you're getting out there more.

Be human! By this I mean make sure you're being real and genuine. Your fans do not want to see 101 posts telling them to go and buy your book. They want to know the person behind the book, which is why they're on your page in the first place. They want to see real human updates - "I just lost everything I was writing for the last hour! Never underestimate the power of 'save" and "Oops, I accidentally ate the entire packet of cookies... sorry, not sorry". - Whatever you're saying, be real. While they love your books, and love you're writing, it doesn't mean you have to be 100% focused on posts about your writing.

Now, to help you manage all of this you want to have some best practice guidelines.

Firstly, keep your posts succinct. Aim for between 100-200 characters. Nice and short. No one really wants to have to click that 'see more' button to read your five paragraph status update. KISS - Keep it simple, sweetheart.

Create an editorial calendar. This is a really great tool to have if you're pushed for time, or if you know you're going to be pushed for time. For example if you're in the editing phases or going on a book tour. Spend a few hours ahead of time making this calendar. Decide which days you'll be posting on. Plot out any key dates that you're aware of coming up - eg. Dad's birthday, book tour launches, a certain author's book is coming out. Then go through and create status updates for each of the days. Eg.

11th March - Post a photo of my writing space with the comment "Settling into my writing cave for the afternoon"

14th March - "Today is my Dad's birthday - Happy birthday to the most incredible dad a girl could have"

17th March - Post youtube video - "Check out the trailer for Minnie Mouse's new YA book, Cats"

21st March - Heading out on book tour tomorrow! Check out the link for our locations and times, and make sure you stop by to say hi!

23rd March - Take photo of book signing and post on Facebook with "Was really great to meet you all in Neverland today!"

You get the general gist. Where possible, plan ahead, create your calendar so you can keep up with Facebook and keep in touch with your fans.  It'd make life so much easier for you and will help keep you/your brand out in front.

Post at the right time. You want to experiment with this a little bit, but see what time your Facebook followers are most active. Then try and post your updates around that time of the day. That way you'll get more engagement in your posts and your posts will be more likely to appear in your fans newsfeeds. (Facebook have changed the visibility of pages in newsfeeds, so the more you're active on Facebook, the more visible you'll be. You can also encourage your fans to hover over the 'like' button and click the "Get Notifications" so they don't miss a single post)

Monitor Facebook insights to see the reach of your posts, and see what type of post is getting the most attention. Interestingly, photo posts receive 120% more engagement than the average post, so when possible include a photo with that status!

So that's about all I have to say on Facebook! I hope that's helped a little! Let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them!

Ciao for now :)